Antibiotic use may trigger arthritis

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

A study published in the journal Pediatrics has found a link between antibiotic use in children and the subsequent development of juvenile arthritis.

Researchers studied the medical records of children in the United Kingdom and found a strong correlation; the more antibiotics the children took, the higher their risk of developing juvenile arthritis. The most common form of arthritis in children is rheumatoid arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease that can cause intense joint pain, swelling and impaired mobility. In the condition, the immune system has gone awry and it starts to attack the joints of the body. Any joint can be affected.

In some circumstances, antibiotics are life-saving drugs. However, in recent times they are prescribed far too often. An unfortunate consequence of antibiotic use is they wipe out large numbers of beneficial microbes in the intestines. This can have a range of undesirable consequences, particularly for the immune system, since most cells of the immune system live in the gastrointestinal tract. This recent study just highlights the critical importance of a healthy gut microbiome in the prevention of autoimmune disease.

What can you do to restore good gut health?

Antibiotics are definitely not the only thing that can adversely affect gut health. The following factors can also create problems:

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs eg. aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen, meloxica
  • Dysbiosis (imbalance between good and bad microbes in the gut)
  • Candida infection
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Inefficient digestion resulting from deficiencies of stomach acid, bile or digestive enzymes
  • Gastrointestinal infections ie. parasites, food poisoning or gastroenteritis
  • Intense or chronic stress
  • A high sugar or refined carbohydrate diet
  • Gluten sensitivity
  • Food allergy or intolerance
  • Lectins, saponins, salicylates and alkaloids found in some foods such as grains, legumes and nightshade vegetable
  • Nutritional deficiencies, particularly zinc and vitamin A

The following strategies may be helpful for restoring gut health:

Correct dysbiosis and/or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

Dysbiosis means having too much bad bacteria, Candida or other microbes in the bowel and not enough good microbes. These harmful bugs inflame the gut lining and inhibit nutrient absorption. It is important to correct this imbalance with diet changes such as eliminating gluten, dairy products, sugar and any food you have a sensitivity to. BactoClear capsules contain clove, oregano, thyme and berberine, and may be helpful. Another common problem is Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). This means there are too many microbes growing in the small intestine, where they shouldn’t be. They aren’t necessarily bad bugs, they’re just living in the wrong place. SIBO commonly causes nutrient deficiencies. Sometimes a low FODMAP diet is necessary in order to overcome SIBO.

Improve digestive function

Deficiencies of stomach acid, bile and digestive enzymes are almost always present in people with poor gut health. It is critically important that you digest your food as thoroughly as possible. This will enable you to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from your food, but there’s also another reason. If you don’t digest your food properly, it will ferment inside your gut. The residues of undigested carbohydrate in particular, will act as food for harmful gut microbes, or encourage their growth in the small intestine, creating SIBO and a leaky gut. Common symptoms include bloating, gas, foggy head, low mood, anxiety or low motivation. Supplementing with apple cider vinegar and digestive enzymes can be immensely helpful.

Heal and seal the gut

There are specific foods and nutrients that help to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and restore the health of the intestinal lining. We need to make it a stronger barrier, so that you don’t keep absorbing toxins and wastes into your bloodstream. The most important substances to heal a leaky gut are glutamine and bone broth. For more information about leaky gut and autoimmune conditions, see the book Healing Autoimmune Disease: A plan to help your immune system and reduce inflammation.

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